rngrdead (rngrdead) wrote in bloodclaim,

Part 61 Swan Lake

Author: josie_h@yahoo.com
Archived at:
Pairing: Xander/Spike
Rating: Mature Audiences – for content and themes
Summary: Xander has PTSD after rescuing one too many slayers. Spike is recovering (sort of) after the battle with W&H. Fate may have it they eventually find each other - she's funny that way.

Spoilers: Sometime in season five AtS – and possibly late seven BtVS.
Warnings: M/M – if you don’t like boys together, don’t play here!
Disclaimer: Don’t own the characters nor make any money from stories etc, and bow down to their original creators Joss, et al., plus all the wonderful online writers who continue to give the Buffy/Angel verse characters life.

Part 61

The following morning they were up relatively early, packed and ready to leave, Spike made sure his partner ate a good breakfast including “enough juice to float an ocean liner!” on the grounds that he might need to feed his lover as there would likely be no blood supply until at least late evening.

Madam de Jong was rather effusive in her welcome as she introduced Gerard Van der Waal. The thin, aging, gemstone assessor seemed decidedly nervous as he greeted the pair, Xander recognizing an individual clearly more comfortable with inanimate stones than people.

They were invited to sit, as they had been the previous day, the stones in question arranged on the black felt in neat rows. Pamela smiled at the group and began, “William, Alexander, I am happy to report that our preliminary examination of your collection is complete. I have invited Gerard this morning, as I am sure he would like to explain his conclusions in person. Gerard?”

Gerard cleared his throat and began in a heavily accented voice, “This is an impressive collection of gemstones, Herr Aurelius, I am happy to report that the quality of the faceting is extraordinary, clarity is as you suggested – exceptional, and the size and color most impressive. I have assessed the group and am confident the full valuation will report a suggested purchase price in the order of five million Euro. The colored stones are of particular interest given their origins. I take it they are quite old, may I ask why they were never set?”

Spike considered the question for a moment then shrugged, “I really have no idea. Only opened the family vault a month or two ago. I imagine they were put in there and forgotten about. Certainly don’t remember anyone in the family mentioning them particularly.”

Gerard looked a little puzzled by the nonchalance of the young man, but knew better than to comment, instead simply concluded, “Well I can assure you we will have a full set of reports to you within a fortnight.”

Spike nodded his thanks and turned back to Madam de Jong, “Pamela I wonder if I might trouble you to send the reports to my financial manager Montague, with copies to our adoptive father’s Florence home. My partner and I will not be staying in England long this time, as we have a construction venture starting in Spain shortly and intend spending some time on sight as Alexander here is taking a personal interest in the project.” Spike leaned forward and handed Pamela Anton’s name and address in his perfect Victorian script.

She looked at the card and her eyes went wide. “I had no idea! But of course, Montague had mentioned your... change of circumstances. So these gems are…”

“My original family’s property. It was a decision made prior to our, that is, Alexander and my, legal adoption. Money matters are not a factor in decisions concerning our very personal relationships as we are all independently wealthy and chronologically adults.”

“Of course! I did not mean to offend William, I was merely expressing my surprise. Had I known… Anton is a most valued client of ours…” Pamela was looking decidedly uncomfortable but covered it with a well-practiced smile.

Spike took pity and smiled back, “And will continue to be I’m sure. He will be most pleased that we have had an entirely positive experience here. Now if you will forgive us Pamela, Herr Vand der Waal, but we really must make our way to the airport. We are due in London by early evening.”

They took a scenic, if unexpected, route to the airport, due to some city celebrations and consequent road closures, but ultimately were back on English soil and in front of Giles’ Soho apartment block as twilight took hold.

Spike smiled across at Xander, “Hope our invite hasn’t been revoked.”

“Oh Ghods, I didn’t even think of that!” Xander looked momentarily panicked.

“No worries luv, if he has, I’ve got a back up plan. Quick call an’ we’ll head for the Savoy. Just check for the key yeah?”

Said key was taped behind the planter where they had left it. There was no sign of life at the flat, they knocked anyway then let themselves in.

Entering the darkened flat, they both dropped their belongings at the foot of the stairs and paused for a moment. Xander’s hand found Spike’s and soon they were embracing silently, both considering how much had changed since they had been there last.

Finally it was Spike who spoke, his voice apparently rough with emotion, “Ghods Xan! Any more of this an’ I’m either gonna have t’ wear a bloody dress or go kill somethin’! Second thoughts, p’raps a drop of blood, decent amount of alcohol an’ a good hard shag would do the trick. What d’ya reckon Luv? Fancy a wander to the off-license?”

Xander smiled, pecked his mate on the cheek then sped their bags up to what was Spike’s, now their, borrowed bedroom. Returning moments later, Spike grinned at Xander’s handsome form as he made his way toward his lover. Apart from the missing eye, he was, Spike decided, definitely male model material. His muscles were now well defined and visible under the well fitted shirt and smart casual pants, his hair stylishly cut and his face clean shaven and positively glowing with health.

Sahil was ensconced behind the counter of his overly busy shop, swearing to himself in a variety of languages as he attempted to unpack some new stock from a box that was stubbornly refusing to give up its contents. Xander grinned across at his lover and whispered, loud enough for the shop owner to hear, “Do you think we should interrupt or is this a private argument do you think?”

The reaction was instant and a little painful as Sahil stood abruptly, banging his head and elbow on the counter in and shelf respectively as he did so, but the wide-eyed surprise and yelp of recognition that followed seemed to discount any inconvenience. The welcome was, if possible, even more enthusiastic than the two visitors had previously experienced.

“Master William, and *Mate* Alexander! Oh, I am honored and grovel in your esteemed presence. Our family is forever in your debt for gracing us with your patronage and protection! We have heard of your many brave exploits while you were away, your recent formal joining and adoption by a new Sire, the Immortal. Extraordinary! I am joyous and humbled that you have chosen to visit our small business once more. If you please, I must call my mother.” The diminutive demon raced to the door at the rear of the shop and called to his family with an urgency that had them all scrambling to attend within moments.

The elderly woman, who had been so insightful on their previous visit, smiled knowingly and made her way directly to Spike. Taking his hands in her wizened ones she stared directly into the pretty blue eyes of the vampire for a long moment before smiling, “I am most honored, Master William, Mate Alexander. And grateful for the service you did our cousins in Zurich. Ah yes… we indeed heard of your bravery there, and further yet, the extraordinary battles in Italy alongside the Immortal, and your full blood brother. Indeed a family to be reckoned with.

“You have chosen your Mate well and been chosen, William Aurelius, as the Fates would dictate and you complied. Now your true Mate is healing, as is your adoptive father, as are you. The demon world is indeed fortunate. Yours will be a long journey with many triumphs and hardships, but this is the way of the world and will strengthen you, strengthen all of you, far beyond what has gone before.”

The old woman’s eyes had glazed over and demon spines emerged as she spoke, but as she snapped back to the present, all traces of her demon nature swiftly disappeared and she smiled good naturedly, “But for now… Our little family is thrilled you have come by. Come, come, Sahil! I will not leave our esteemed friends wanting. What is it you need, Master William?”

Spike smiled at the woman, then Sahil, “We’ll help ourselves to human food but you wouldn’t happen to have…”

“Of course, Master Spike! Mother will be happy to watch the shop and I can deliver it within the hour, if that is acceptable. Are you staying at the same place? How many bags would you like?”

Food, beer and some good scotch were procured and money for the ‘other’ supplies handed over. The pair went back to the flat, Xander ate and as promised Sahil’s smiling face was at the doorstep some fifty minutes later with a cooler box of blood.

Fed and relaxed, they sat on the upper balcony in the twilight and matters turned to the necessary visit to the coven.

Spike broached the issue first, “Best get the phone call over with. Like pulling a plaster, done fast it hurts for a bit, but usually not as bad as you might expect. Drag it out and things really do get painful. It’s the thought more than the deed, Luv.”

Xander worried a cuticle as he contemplated the possible outcomes and mumbled, “I know. It’s just… what do I say?”

“Tell him we’re here for a start. Make a date for a visit – tomorrow if you like, three days hence at the latest. Hopefully Red’ll have gotten back from her jaunt to places unknown and we can have done with the explanations in one go.”

Xander looked even more worried at the prospect of Willow present, “Ghods Spike! I haven’t even… well I haven’t seen her for nearly six months! And last time I was in hospital when she came for a visit, not my proudest moment – I cried in her lap!”

“An’ so she’ll be over the moon you’re happy, if she’s any sort of friend. And she, of all people, will be pleased that the root of your misery was spirit based, and that you are seein’ to that.”

“But what about… you know all the other stuff? Spike, remember all that stuff about light and dark and balance… and the Mating and Sire… and Connor?”

“From what I can tell, least word from Connor is that Red met the boy way back. Not sayin’ they got on, but she’s the only Scoobie who really knew about him. Met Fred and the others too. That’s the conversation I’m not lookin’ forward to, but it will have to be said I imagine.”

Xander turned and saw the flash of pain and loss in his lover’s eyes, and felt it through their link like a knife pain in the heart. He was up and kneeling between his partner’s knees before Spike even had a chance to continue. Taking the blonde’s hands in his own he pulled him down for a gentle kiss, and whispered, “I’m so sorry Spike, I keep forgetting your losses. I…”

Spike gave him a rueful smile, “Yeah well… Lookin’ forward now aren’t we. So… You go get the phone and let’s make these arrangements, then you an’ I c’n have a conflab’ ‘bout where we’re gonna live – at least for now. Can’t have Sire fronting up with nowhere to put his head now can we?”

Xander nodded and went to find his phone, returning moments later and with a rueful look in his Master Vampire’s direction, dialed.

“Hello? Yes, it’s… Alexander Aurelius calling for Rupert Giles. Yes, it’s quite important I speak to him personally please.” Spike cocked an eyebrow at Xander’s use of his new name, their name, then gave his Mate a blinding smile and nod of encouragement.

Spike could hear every word as Giles dulcet tones came onto the line, and winked his encouragement to his Mate, “Mr Aurelius, Rupert Giles here. How may I help you?”

“Hello Mr Giles. I hope you remember me, I’m an old friend of yours, and… I so can’t do this!... Hi Giles, it’s Xander. We’re um… we’re back in London and I was hoping we could meet up and… you know… talk. Spike and I have some business in London, but I was wondering if maybe sometime in the next few days would suit?”

There was a long pause, Spike fancying he heard the harsh polishing of some long suffering glasses. A throat cleared on the other end of the line, then, “Yes… yes of course. As it happens, Willow arrives home tomorrow after her sojourn in South America. Her flight from Ascencion arrives early but perhaps the day after would be best, as I’m sure she will need recovery time. I am assuming you mean to come here?”

“If that’s OK? But we can meet somewhere ‘neutral’ if it… would make you more comfortable.” The last statement was said with false confidence, Xander relieved when strong arms enveloped him from behind as he waited for the reply.

“No, no! Xander, however much I do not understand your actions in the immediate past, this was your home, or at least home base, for a number years now, I’m sure here will be fine. I hope you have availed yourselves to the flat again. I would be disappointed if you felt you had to stay elsewhere, at least for the time being… What time suits on Friday? I’m afraid that the coven is rather full with summer students until late next week so staying here is rather out of the question, even overnight but there are a number of options in the surrounding county – I can recommend the Crown Inn at Chiddingford - local pub near here with rather traditional style accommodation. Now, I don’t want to cut you off but I really must be going, see you on Friday?”

“Sounds fine… see you then.” Xander rung off and gave a sigh of relief, leaning back against the strong torso of his Mate and accepting a gentle kiss.

“See, Watcher was probably just as worried ‘bout you cuttin’ ‘im off as t’other way round. Now I reckon it’s about time we got you fed, ‘n I don’t fancy cookin’ do you? How’s about we go for a wander, see what we can find. Night’s still young so far as London is concerned.”

They wandered through the backstreets to the eating precinct of Soho, quickly decided on “The African Tukul” where the food was hot, spicy and quite genuine. Xander endeared himself by addressing the waitress initially in Arabic after he heard her speaking to a colleague. As a consequence (and perhaps due to the late hour) they were the last customers and graced with the good company of husband and wife, Suddanese immigrant owners of the venture, Tuptu and Kali (the chef and the waitress respectively), who sat at their table and conversed easily in a combination of English, French and Arabic about all manner of topics, from various economic challenges on the African continent, to hilarious anecdotes about restaurant guests and embarrassing cultural misunderstandings.

By the time the Mated pair left for the evening, there was a promise to return again the following night for the regular live music evening and a sampling of Tuptu’s specialty banquet.

They had imbibed a goodly amount of strong beer during the night, but a vampire constitution seemed to extend to Xander and determined that neither he nor Spike were the least bit tipsy, which proved a blessing as they made their way back to the apartment.

The pair was walking hand in hand as they rounded the last turn and sauntered down the dimly lit street toward Soho Square. Both heard rather than saw their assailants first. Spike squeezed Xander’s hand and they both readied for anything.

Two vampires appeared from a doorway in front of them, just as two others dropped, near silently down behind from a solid awning above.

Xander and Spike swiftly assessed their opposition as the shortest of the attackers sneered at them, “Reckon these pissants are on the Master of London’s turf without permission, waddya think Lennie?”

The vampire behind them replied, “I reckon they are John.”

“Master don’t take kindly to that sort of thing, right rude that is, don’t you think?”

“Too right it is.”

Spike snorted at the stupidity of the minions and growled a quiet, “Oh Pet, this is gonna be a treat.”

Xander mumbled, “Feed, fight and f#%k. Perfect.”

Spike gave a faux friendly smile, “Gosh Pet. Seems like there are assholes everywhere in this world. Who would have thought? Seem to recall that twerp of a London Master, an’ who was ‘is ponce of a Childe… Neville, that was it. Guess like attracts like if these idiots are any measure.”

The protests and growls came from all four minions, and a gamefaced John roared to his fellows, “Time we teach the tourists some manners ‘ey boys?”

The fight was over almost before it began. Master and Mate instantly positioned themselves back to back and simply ran through what might have been a light warm up for a training session, defending themselves, disarming then dispatching three of the four vampires. The last one, who seemed the least important of the group was beaten and pinned to the ground by Xander, who casually turned to Spike, “Should we let this one go back to his Master with our greetings?”

“Yeah, what the heck. So wet around the ears, ‘e’ll likely be dusted on the way anyhow.”

Xander leaned down close to the now terrified minion, his small fangs to the fore, and growled, “Do let Master Edgar know that Master Vampire William the Bloody and his Mate Alexander, Aurelian Childer of the Immortal, Master Anton Athenatos send their greetings. And request that next time he provide a more… appropriate welcome to London for a visiting Master.” With that he pulled the now whimpering vampire to his feet and shoved him toward the end of the street.

The demon took off at a sprint, and the Mated pair, still on a bit of a high after the fight, did likewise – but for a completely different reason. Xander was barely in the door of their apartment before he was pushed against the wall, pinned by preternaturally strong body and kissed breathless.

The growled, “Bedroom now!” was all it took before the pair was stripping en route, tumbling onto their shared bed in a passionate pile of frantic flesh. There was no finesse or dialogue, simply groans, urgent thrusts, limbs tangling and finally, relief as Xander accepted his Master’s spend deep into his body with a grateful sigh then bared his neck. Spike accepted the offer as his partner joined him in relief.

Collapsing on his partner, evidence of Xander’s orgasm pressed between them, Spike reciprocated the gesture of exposing his slender neck, and sighed with satisfaction as he felt the Mate take his due with small fangs penetrating the tender, pale skin. They were still joined and within minutes, both were hard and the pair was moving again. This time the pace was leisurely and lovingly gentle, and after both had climaxed, they simply curled around each other and slept dreamlessly.


The next morning was spent making arrangements for their trip to the coven – electing to take train to Guildford then hiring a car. Xander’s concern over not having a current driver’s license was immediately dispelled by Spike refusing to even consider that the Mate might drive. The booking for a ‘classic double’ suite at the Crown Inn for the following evening was sorted, then a quick call to Montague determined the remainder of the day for them.

A London taxi ride later and they were welcomed into the plush offices of the effusive Monty. Unlike his previous visit, this time Spike was well up with his financial circumstances, had papers requiring review and some news regards the estimates on the gemstones.

A smiling George Montague raced around the front of his desk, hand extended, as the two entered the room, “William my dear fellow! And Alexander! How wonderful too see you again! And William you sly dog, you finally decided to tie the knot I heard. Well congratulations. Wonderful news, simply wonderful! I am thrilled for you both. Take a seat, please.

“Now I have those papers we spoke of, ah, here they are.” He straightened the shuffled pile and spun them around for Spike and Xander to see. “The top two are the directorship papers for your company William. Alexander, if you would mind giving them a read I am sure you will find it all in order. Signatures and initials required are all marked for you.”

Xander raised an eyebrow in Spike’s direction, feeling only pride and love flowing through the shared link. The blonde gave him a rather enigmatic smile and stated simply, “Can’t have you actin’ the big boss on the new project without the right paperwork, Pet.”

While Xander was reading the pages of legalese, Monty had continued his summary of the business at hand. “I must say that with your new Sire being so well connected, things have moved along rather quickly on all the other matters you asked me to attend to, and I have the estimates, or should I say offer, for the gemstones you left in Amsterdam. I think you will find the sum rather pleasing, and I would recommend the short term cash fund if you are still intending to invest in real estate while you are here?” George Montague smiled, and Spike knew he was fishing for a little more information, so decided to put the old friend out of his misery,

“We’ll be heading off again by the end of the month, but Sire is keen for us to have a base here in England and I’m inclined to agree. Haven’t decided long term, but I reckon we’ll be lookin’ for somethin’ with a bit of quiet and space around. Not lookin’ to set up a court, though if bloody Edgar keeps pushing, might be forced to sort the pip squeak once ‘n for all… we’ll see.”

Montague’s bushy eyebrows raised at the reference to the London Master, “Surely he has not thought to threaten you or Mate Alexander already?”

“Not sure if it was him or just bad luck. Had a bit of a run in with some of his older minions last night, not even sure if they knew who we were exactly, though pretty obvious they’d been trackin’ us. No matter. Hardly broke stride before a dusty end, ‘n sent one of the buggers home with a message, so we’ll see. Anyway, reckon we need to look at a few properties in the next couple of weeks – like I said in the Email – be happy if you have some ideas mate. I was thinkin’ somewhere ‘round Oxford might be nice, definitely Thames valley area at least.”

Monty beamed, “Yes of course! I’ll put the word out. Now, Alexander, does it all look in order?”

Xander had only been half concentrating on reading, but trusted Spike to have drafted the document based on their discussions while still with Anton, so simply smiled and replied politely, “Of course. And thank you for your work on this.” He accepted the fountain pen offered by Montague and signed “Alexander L. Aurelius” carefully in all places indicated. The signature in full would have taken too long as it now included Anton’s last name Athenatos, the nod to his Harris human heritage satisfied by retaining the middle initial for Lavelle.

Monty witnessed the document, and the remainder of the discussion turned to social events and a bit of local gossip concerning the local upper-crust demon world, and the inevitable speculations regards market fluctuations and future investments. Xander said little and did his best to commit some names and associated roles to memory, realizing that he and Spike would be called upon to participate in this world, much as Anton was in demand wherever he went. It was a rather daunting prospect, but as Anton pointed out, it was something that happened gradually and therefore was best accepted as a natural part of life (or unlife as the case may be).

In the end they had spent just over an hour in Monty’s good company, and managed to promise to attend Lady Regina’s ‘September Soiree’ before they headed to Spain.

They returned home late afternoon, Xander worrying that they should perhaps clean up the flat in preparation for departing the next day, and Spike adamant that it was unnecessary. It was only after it was pointed out to him that the large flower arrangement sent by Lady Regina to welcome them back to London, was notably absent, and the sheets on what had been Xander’s bed were crisp and fresh (i.e. the beds had been made) that the Vampire’s Mate realized the apartment was serviced weekly. In the end they simply packed their belongings, with the exception of their travel outfits for the following day, and tumbled into the bed to have a “pre-dinner shag to improve the appetite”, not that either individual needed a reason.

Returning to the African Tukul as promised, the restaurant was packed with appreciative diners, all apparently fans of the live music and more than willing to press tables back and put up with a bit of crowding to allow revelers to dance as the mood took them. The food was excellent plentiful and very much a communal shared affair, and drinks flowed freely. Kali had recognized the pair from the night before and waved them to a tiny table at the rear of the restaurant, where she also introduced a few of the people on neighboring tables then went back to her duties. And despite the night being fairly raucous, it was really rather fun, if only that they were two of only four Caucasians in a sea of London’s recent sub-Saharan immigrants, and therefore had the perfect excuse to watch rather than try to keep up with the fast paced, rhythmic dance.

Spike left a large tip and the pair left rather earlier than the previous night. They decided to walk home via Sahil’s off license, just as a thank you and to let him know their custom was guaranteed whenever they were in London. The sentiment was appreciated and Spike’s blood supply for the next few days organized for an early morning delivery.

Despite the fact that it was a different direction to their previous night’s walk home, they could both feel the presence of vampires as they exited Sahil’s premises. Spike grinned across to Xander and rolled his eyes when his Mate whispered, “Company”. This time, however, there was no doubting the origin, nor the number of assailants, as Neville flanked by four large minions walked boldly toward them and sneered, “William, and your human *pet*. What an unpleasant surprise. It seems you violated my Sire’s territorial rights last night. I must say I was rather pleased you did, you see I’ve always wanted to be the one to put you in your place.”

Spike didn’t bother with a retort, he simply snorted, didn’t even bother to change his casual stance, and gave a feral grin in Xander’s direction, flashing just enough fang to emphasize the feeling of pre battle excitement already flowing through the link.

The lack of response had the desired effect, Neville’s roar of anger signaling the attack as the minions flew forward.

After the fact Xander would reflect on the advantages of being underestimated. Two of the minions had clearly been instructed to ‘take out’ the damaged human. Xander used the momentum of the brutish vamp who lunged at him first, to skillfully flip the assailant onto the ground, stunning him and dislocating the attacker’s shoulder in the process. He stomped on the snarling individual’s face rather hard and by mistake, as he swung to defend himself from the other vampire who was almost on top of him. A fang punctured to sole of his shoe, but he had no time to worry when a searing pain in his side alerted him to the, now bloodied, knife wielded by the blonde minion.

Spurred on rather than deterred by the pain, Xander roared and rather than pulling back as expected, yanked his attacker closer and punched the vamp as hard as he could. With no wood to hand he did the next best thing, he grabbed the hair of his dazed opponent, wrenched his head to the side and tore out his throat… with his small fangs. It was a dusty end but it was still a bloodied chin and wild eyed brunette that turned in time to see Spike being circled by Neville and one of his minions.

Without thought he launched himself at the minion, who apparently had assumed the damaged human would already be dead, gauging by ease with which Xander grabbed him from behind, spun him and gave the individual the same treatment as his knife wielding colleague. The result was the same… blood then dust.

He turned again, just in time to see Spike sparring at lightening speed with Neville, Master Edgar’s Childe was fast, but Spike was faster, street wise and far more battle hardened. Xander held his injured side, which was still bleeding sluggishly, and leaned against a wall to enjoy the inevitable result the confrontation.

The altercation was played out at viciously and swiftly. It ended with Neville eventually pinned, left cheek pressed hard into the asphalt of the road, with Spike seated on his backside, and one arm twisted up behind his back so far Xander was sure it was dislocated at the very least. Spike leaned down and menacingly scraped his fangs across Neville’s turning mark then growled into his ear, “I have every right to dust you, or drain you again and give you minion status for attempting to murder the Immortal’s Childer unprovoked. But quite frankly, I’ve got better things to do than play schoolyard politics with your small time crook of a Sire.

“So I will send you home with a simple warning, and I trust he will listen this time. If he does not leave my Mate and I the f%$# alone, or makes our time in London in any way unpleasant, he will very quickly find out what a truly powerful family he has taken on, not to mention the many allies of the Immortal and his kin. We can destroy him fiscally or physically or both. Now… you got that? Reckon you c’n tell your Sire good ‘n proper?” When there was no reply, Spike grabbed the dirty blonde hair with his free hand and yanked back the hapless Neville’s head to an almost impossible angle. “Well?”

A rasped, “Y…ye..sssss” was the only answer after which Spike gave one more push of the arm and then stood away from the vampire. With a final snort of disgust directed at the now whimpering figure on the ground, Spike turned to his lover, “Come on Pet, let’s go home.”

Though it was only a few hundred meters home, progress was slow as Xander’s stab wound made itself known in no uncertain way. Spike said nothing, but anger and worry permeated the link. Finally, as they entered the apartment, Spike turned his partner gently and kissed him on the lips, “Best you stop here a mo’ while I run a bath luv.”

Xander nodded and leaned against the wall. A few minutes later, Spike returned, carried the brunette upstairs without comment and stripped his lover, before gentling him into the hot bath and finally sliding in behind him.

Both men finally relaxed back, the taller Xander finding his mouth drawn to his lover’s neck but hesitated to bite until he felt his Master smile and stretch his neck a little, “Pet… don’t need my permission.”

Xander sighed, felt his canines elongate just enough, and bit down drawing the healing blood of his partner into himself and offered his wrist to reciprocate the favor. Neither took much, but it was more than enough to accelerate Xander’s healing and consolidate their bond once more.

Eventually dry and curled up around each other in their bed, Spike whispered, “You were bloody brilliant tonight Pet… but…”

Xander felt the query rather than heard it and answered the unspoken question, “I… it’s different now, going into battle… I mean… I don’t feel like I’m losing myself any more. Not like heading into a dark space like before, now I’m there and do what needs to be done. Kind of weirded out a bit with the whole tearing out a neck with my mouth, but it’s more to do with it feeling kind of OK, natural, than a freaked out ‘eww’… you know?”

He felt Spike’s soft lips against his own before the reply came, “Just usin’ the weapons at hand Luv… Mate of a Master after all. ‘S nice to know you always have them with you, don’t you think?”

Xander kissed his partner with a little more passion then sighed and relaxed further, and just before they both gave in to slumber Spike just caught the contented, “Yeah… Mas…ter’s… Mate… hmmm”

The trip to the coven the next day went without a hitch. The train was on time, the rental car was waiting for collection, and the auto navigator (and Spike’s driving) had them at their accommodation within an hour of picking it up.

Their room was rather lovely – all dark wood and plush four-poster bed, plus modern bathroom and comfortable furnishings. But they were only there to drop off their belongings before the real reason for the short trip needed to be dealt with.

Approaching the coven up the long driveway, Spike could feel the tension flowing in waves from his lover. He stopped the car some hundred paces from the door, flicked the lever on his seat so the back collapsed to near horizontal, then pulled Xander out of his seat belt and across his chest, growling, “C’mon luv, we both need a little liquid courage of the red variety, yeah?” With no further prompting they both latched onto their partner’s neck for a few fortifying sips, before righting themselves and proceeding as before.

Xander rang the large brass bell rather tentatively then stood back and accepted Spike’s strong hand into his as they waited.

Unusually for the coven, Giles answered the door rather than one of the young wiccans. The old Watcher seemed a little unsure of what to say, but finally settled on, “Xander. Spike. Please come in. I trust you found your accommodation easily?”

They were ushered through to Giles’ private office where, of all people, Andrew was already seated waiting for them.

Giles indicated to a small chez lounge in the impromptu circle of chairs as he commented, “Please take a seat gentlemen. Willow will be joining us momentarily. I would prefer she be present before we proceed. Now, I feel the need for fortification, and as we are all adults, and the sun is well past the yard arm, what can I get for you?”

Drinks were swiftly ordered and served, then all four sat in tense silence, sipped their beverages politely, and waited.

Finally they heard Willow call down the hallway, Sorry Giles’ I’m on my way now, just need the bathroom first.”

Another minute passed and then the door to the office was flung open and a petite redhead stood smiling and exuding the power they all knew she carried within.

Author's Note: The country pub the boys booked: http://www.thecrownchiddingfold.com/

  • The Love of the Bullied 14/?

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